A stringent law imposing 120 per cent tax, jail term of up to 10 years and penalty on undisclosed foreign assets and income to deal with the black money menace was passed in Lok Sabha Monday by voice vote and with support from the Opposition.
The Congress argued that the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015, is a finance bill. However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan agreed to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s argument that it is a money bill, in which case approval of the Upper House is not mandatory.
Although the Opposition backed the bill, most parties demanded that the bill be referred to a parliamentary panel. Jaitley rejected the demand saying there was an urgent need to bring in a legislation so that action could be taken against the guilty. He dismissed apprehensions that the legislation would turn out to be draconian.
Under the proposed law, there would be a short compliance window within which persons with undisclosed income abroad can come clean by paying 30 per cent tax and 30 per cent penalty. Once the window closes, anyone found having undeclared overseas wealth would be required to pay 30 per cent tax, 90 per cent penalty and face criminal prosecution, Jaitley said. There could be a two-month window to declare overseas assets and income and a six-month period to pay tax and penalty, he added.
Earlier, Congress’ Deepender Hooda said his party would back the bill as it did not want to be accused of “standing between people and Rs 15 lakh” promised by PM Narendra Modi.
The bill will now go to Rajya Sabha.
Major hurdles await black money bill in Rajya Sabha
♦ The black money bill passed in Lok Sabha by a voice vote on Monday is likely to face major hurdles in Rajya Sabha. The Congress said the Bill requires parliamentary panel scrutiny as it has “TADA provisions” and questioned Lok Sabha Speaker’s ruling that it was a money bill. Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said the party was not opposed to the black money bill, but argued it required scrutiny. “A Bill in which you have stringent provisions, virtually the TADA provisions of 10 years’ imprisonment, is being camouflaged as a Money Bill.
♦ We find it difficult to accept. It should be brought in as a criminal law Bill. It is not budget, it is not demand for grants or an appropriation Bill,” he said.